Stories influence our thoughts and beliefs. These beliefs, carried down upon the tongues of generations, allow us to search for our place within the world, creating a sense of purpose and beauty. Myths and parables are timeless for their ability to comment on the validity and utility of our convictions. We accept these commentaries confidently because of their relatability. However, these stories and their meanings are separate from ourselves, created by others and passed on. In my current body of work, I create original narratives that inform my visual content, and in so doing, project my own meanings and my own intentions.
As an example, in the piece Portrait of a Man I Know #1, a large sculpted black bird-figure is perched on the back of a heightened chair. A bundle of rusty cut-nails is mounted over the seat's frame on a steel post. I imagine a man who has found companionship with a raven that can answer all of his questions. However, to have his questions answered the man must abandon the comforts of his presuppositions. Here, I think of the nails as the bindings of the man's mind, which he chooses to dismantle in his search for understanding. While this story isn't communicated directly to the viewer, it is the imposition of my own narrative that led to its consummation.
The materials and objects I use in these pieces are carefully considered based on their previous function and connotations. However, within my work, their meanings are expanded or used in analogue. The cut-nails used in Portrait of a Man I Know #1 originally came from a shed I dismantled, altered and re-constructed in A Structure. The re-built shed embodied the structure of my mind. The nails were arranged in the outline of a man inside the shed. These nails were once again used to evoke the minds unhinging. It is because of the narrative that the cut-nails connote a deconstructed mind as opposed to a deconstructed shed. While the reasons for my methods and choices of material may not be immediately apparent, they are all relevant to my thoughts and intentions.
To date I have made some very focused bodies of work, but my methodologies are not fixed. My intentions are to follow my interests and thoughts. My progression to my current body of work happened organically, and my work will continue to evolve. Some time in the past, while wrapping embossed paper around discarded wood, it occurred to me that I was clothing and caring for something that had been neglected. Later, I came to see shredded newspaper as disrupted information. Through the act of making the printed word illegible, I created new information by rejecting second-hand accounts. Seeing the reactions of friends when I talked about this work led me to experiments in social interactions in which I gave unconventional gifts anonymously. Here I examined an audience's reaction to my work as an intrusive and evocative act. My interests in people have now brought me to exploring narratives, and I have the sense that my work is beginning to shift again.
Jim Leach received his BFA in sculpture from Kent State. In his current body of work, he creates original narratives that inform his visual content, and in so doing, project his own meanings and intentions.